Albert J. Mitchell Jr., a New Mexico state district court judge, lost his bid for retention in the November election, but he may not have to leave the job, reports the Albuquerque Journal. That's because Mitchell has applied to fill the vacancy that will be created Jan. 1 by his election loss. It's an odd new twist to New Mexico's 26-year-old system of appointing, electing and retaining judges. No law explicitly says judges can't be appointed to vacancies created by their own election losses.
Mitchell and Donald C. Schutte, a former judge who lost an election for the job to Mitchell in 2008, are the only two applicants for the vacancy. A bipartisan judicial nominating commission will decide whether to recommend Mitchell, Schutte, both or neither to the governor for possible appointment to the vacancy. The state Supreme Court last week rejected a request that it prohibit the nominating commission from considering Mitchell's application.